What Vessel License Do You Need to Boat in Canada?

vessel license

Purchasing a boat can be a truly liberating experience. Before you hit the open waters, however, it is crucial that you obtain the correct vessel license. With proper licensing and registration, you can ensure that you are safely and legally operating your boat on Canadian waters. With so many licensing and registration possibilities – not to mention individual provincial requirements – it can be a little confusing to identify the documentation that you need. Read on to learn which license is right for you.

Different Boats, Different Licenses And Registrations

Just as boats vary in size and function, from small canoes to industrial barges, license and registration requirements fluctuate as well. If you are going to use your vessel for anything commercial, which is typically the catch and sale of fish or using your boat as a charter for paying guests, you will need to register your vessel with Transport Canada.

vessel license

If, however, you are like the majority of Canada’s seafaring community, you are likely operating a pleasure craft. As it states right there in the name, a pleasure craft is a boat that is used for just that – pleasure. Leisure activities like sightseeing and fishing are best exercised with a pleasure craft, and while such a boat doesn’t require registration in most cases, you will need the proper licensing. 

Getting Your Pleasure Craft Vessel License

After saving the necessary funds and finding just the right boat, you have made a purchase and are ready to get out on the water. Before you take your family and friends out, however, you will need to get a pleasure craft license. This document, which features a series of identification numbers, will need to be kept on your vessel at all times. Your boat should also display its identification number in a prominent location on both sides of the bow, clearly above the waterline. Make sure your identification numbers are at least 7.5 centimeters high and choose a color that starkly contrasts with your boat.

Do You Need A Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)?

A pleasure craft operator card often referred to as a PCOC, is different from a pleasure craft license. A PCOC card can be obtained after passing a Transport Canada boating safety test, in conjunction with a boating safety course. The PCOC card is federally mandated, so boaters in every province must carry them. If you are operating any sort of motorized vessel, you are required to obtain a PCOC card.

Here For All Of Your Boating Documentation Needs

It may seem confusing to keep track of all of the various licenses and registrations that your boat needs. Fortunately, the National Vessel Registry Center is here to help. Our easy-to-navigate website offers every form that you need to keep your vessel up-to-date with Transport Canada’s records. To learn more about how we can help you, contact one of our friendly customer service representatives today.